The Flying Dutchman – Ghost Ship

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The Flying Dutchman – Ghost Ship.

There is a legend about a ghost ship that can never reach port – the sails of the ship forever flapping in the wind and the captain and crew doomed to sail the oceans forever. It sounds a lot like a scene from the famous movie Pirates of the Caribbean but the phantom ship that we referring to is called the “Flying Dutchman” or “Der Vliegende Hollander”.

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Der Fliegende Hollander Phantom Ship

The Flying Dutchman and stormy waters.

I didn`t know much about the legend and remember something about stormy waters and The Cape of Good Hope or Cape Town as it is now called. Imagine my surprise when we stumbled upon the ship and Captain in Kaliningrad, Russia! Yes the captain was standing on deck and searching for something on the horizon. No crew was in sight but I wasn`t wrong.

The name of the ship was clearly visible – “Der Vliegende Hollander”. I was surprised. So how did the ship end up in Kaliningrad, close to the Baltic sea and what was the captain and his ship doing on dry land?

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Captain on deck.

I love legends. Over the years they develop into different stories and eventually you have a couple of versions to choose from. In the end people never know where or how the legend originated in the first place. It is the same with the legend of the Flying Dutchmen.

In the 16th and 17th centuries Holland was by far the leader when it came to sailing around the world and discovering new places. There was a certain captain that sailed in a record time from Holland to Java and was called “Vanderdecken” meaning on deck.  Sources are not sure if his ship was called the Vliegende Hollander (Flying Dutchman) or if it was the nickname of the captain.

Legend of the Flying Dutchman.

  • One legend says that the captain said he refuses to retreat when faced by a terrible storm and would sail around the Cape of Good Hope until judgment day.
  • The second legend says that a terrible crime was committed on board his ship and that a plague broke out. They could not sail to any port.
  • The third legend says that the captain sailed into a terrible storm and didn’t see it coming. They battled for many hours to save the crew and the ship but couldn’t get out of the storm. He cursed the weather and said that he would sail around the Cape of Good Hope until judgment day.

Interesting that many people believe they have actually seen the “Flying Duchman” at sea on a stormy day. This is how it was described by King George V when he sailed to Africa on board the Royal Navy Ship the “Bacchante” in 1881.

“A strange red light as of a phantom ship all aglow, in the midst of which light the mast, spars and sails of a brig 200 yards distant stood out in strong relief.”

A ghost ship and World War II.

It is also believed that the ship was spotted by Germans during World War 2. Did I really see the Vliegende Hollander? Oh yes I did. It seems like Captain Vanderdecken got tired of chasing his own tail and settled in Kaliningrad. His ship is now a restaurant but he prefers to stay on deck, watching the horizons and waiting for the perfect opportunity to sail away.

Where: Kaliningrad,Russian Federation.

When: 19 June 2012

I have been fortunate to have done quite a bit of travelling over the last 10 years. By heart I am an adventurer and I love exploring new places, cultures and food. Travelling can become stressful and expensive. Over the years I have learnt to travel as cost effective as possible, simply by travelling more clever. is a Adventure and Budget Travel site where I review Airlines, Accommodation, Transport, Restaurants and give helpful travel information.

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